Google “Chinese Christmas Eve” and you won’t just find suggestions about what to do if you’re in Beijing on December 24. The first hits are all about eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve, a recent tradition that has gotten nods from NPR and the New York Times, among others. On the night before Christmas, Jewish families have long enjoyed dinners at Chinese restaurants since they were typically the only restaurants open. A Christmas Story, a staple holiday movie for the last two decades, has also done much to inspire the custom. For those who are still doing their last minute shopping that day, or who don’t want to cook up two big meals in 24 hours, or who are celebrating in small groups, Chinese on Christmas Eve has all kinds of practical appeal. And as Ryan Yoshinaga, the general manager at China Pavilion (1202 Chapala St., 560-6028), points out, the fact that Chinese food is served family-style adds to its appeal for those celebrating the holidays with relatives. Besides, since the interior of a conventional Chinese restaurant is red and gold, it even looks like the right place for a yuletide meal.
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